More flexible hours and noticeable changes at community pharmacies across Surrey and Sussex to help protect staff, patients and the public

More flexible hours and noticeable changes at community pharmacies across Surrey and Sussex to help protect staff, patients and the public

March 24, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has issued revised standard operating procedures (SOP) for community pharmacies.

This allows Community Pharmacies, like other front line community teams such as GPs, to work in different ways to help protect their teams, patients and the public. It is largely in response to hugely increasing workload of walk-in patients, minor illness, access to medicines (prescription & OTC) and additional workload as GP practice front doors are closed. Noticeable changes at pharmacies may include:

  • Limiting the number of people within the pharmacy at the same time
  • Sectioning the pharmacy to encourage social distancing ( at least 2 metres ) for people coming into the pharmacy with floor markings (using tape) or barriers (if possible)
  • Using a hatch (mainly for out of hours pharmacies) then using that for pick up and drop offs

Commenting, James Wood, spokesperson for the Local Pharmaceutical Committees (LPCs) in Surrey and Sussex said the updated SOP also gives pharmacies some flexibility with opening and closing times so a big, but less obvious change may be pharmacies reducing the times they admit members of the public into their premises. This will be vital to continuing to provide safe and efficient services.

James said: “Pharmacy teams are very, very busy just now, but they also need time for cleaning, to safely deal with high volumes of work, have a rest and a break.

“There may also be occasions when staff are sick and pharmacies situated within other premises – for example within GP practices, supermarkets and shopping arcades – may not be able to open because their host is not open”.

If under significant pressure, pharmacies may now close their doors to the public for up to 2.5 hours a day, including during lunch. This can be done at the discretion of the responsible pharmacist, however

  • Community pharmacies are expected to be open to the public between 10am-12 noon and 2pm-4pm as a minimum (if these are contracted core or supplementary hours).
  • Similarly, 100 hours pharmacies should be open from 10am–12pm and 2pm–6pm as a minimum.

If pharmacies need to reduce their hours they will be required to make ‘cover’ arrangements with one or more NHS community pharmacy situated in the same area, inform their  local GP practices and their NHS England Regional Team.


More information

 




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